One-eleventh of the Indianapolis 500 grid will be represented by ‘the fairer sex’, with the news that Pippa Mann will return to the IndyCar Series’ most famous oval race after securing a one-off drive with Dale Coyne Racing.
The 29-year-old Englishwoman – who provided us with an exclusive interview earlier this year – will drive a third car run by the team, teaming up with regular drivers Justin Wilson and Ana Beatriz.
It will be Mann’s second Indianapolis 500 start, after making her series debut in 2011 with the Conquest Racing team, finishing 20th.
She drove later that year for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan squad, but withdrew from the New Hampshire round after a qualifying crash, before returning at Kentucky to finish 22nd.
Her final appearance came at the ill-fated Las Vegas round, where she was caught up in the fatal accident that killed Dan Wheldon; Mann suffered burns to her hands in the multi-car pile-up.
She’s been without a full-time drive since then, and made a one-off Auto GP appearance last year when the championship visited Sonoma.
“I actually first met Dale several years ago, before I came to the US, at what turned out to be the final Champ Car test at Sebring right before the open-wheel merger,” Mann confirmed in her announcement of the Dale Coyne Racing drive.
“We’ve sort of had an ongoing conversation ever since then, and I actually got very close to getting in one of Dale’s cars on Bump Day last year. A year later, we’ve now put this programme together.”
Mann’s appointment puts the Indianapolis 500 grid to thirty cars, three short of the traditional 33-car starting order. That is set to increase, with rumours that former series drivers Townsend Bell, Jay Howard and Jacques Lazier are reportedly working on deals to join the grid.